3PL Fulfillment Process Explained

December 12, 2022

Reading 5 minutes
3pl fulfillment

When it comes to e-commerce, shipping and fulfillment can be a tricky process. But with the help of a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, retailers can outsource these processes and focus on growing their business. 

So, what is 3PL fulfillment and how does it work? In this blog post, we’ll break down the basics of 3PL fulfillments so you can understand what to expect from this type of service.

3PL Vs. 4PL

3PL (Third Party Logistics) is a type of logistics service provider that specializes in outsourcing logistics services, such as warehousing and transportation, to clients. These services are usually limited in scope, but they can provide valuable cost savings and operational efficiencies to businesses. 

On the other hand, 4PL (Fourth Party Logistics) is a type of provider that looks to integrate different logistics services from multiple providers into an integrated supply chain solution. 4PLs are often considered the “glue” in the supply chain, as they work with clients and 3PLs alike to create efficient solutions for managing supply chains. 

They provide total global visibility and control across all elements of the supply chain, including inventory management, transportation optimization and forecasting. 

Overall, 3PLs are a great option for businesses looking for cost savings and operational efficiencies, while 4PLs are an excellent choice for those who need more sophisticated global visibility and control across their supply chains. Both types of logistics services provide valuable solutions to help businesses achieve their goals.

3pl fulfillment

What Is The 3PL Fulfillment Process?

The 3PL fulfillment process is a comprehensive logistics solution for businesses looking to outsource their warehousing and order fulfillment needs. It involves the use of third-party providers to store, package, and ship products on behalf of the business. 

This type of arrangement allows companies to focus more on other areas, such as marketing and customer service, while still receiving the necessary support to keep their business running efficiently. 

The 3PL Fulfillment Process


The receiving process typically begins when the goods arrive at the 3PL warehouse. Here, they are inspected for any damages or discrepancies and then entered into the system to be tracked and managed properly. This ensures that all items are correctly accounted for and available for fulfillment upon request. 

Warehousing & Inventory Management

3PL fulfillment warehousing and inventory management are key elements of a successful supply chain strategy. The process involves identifying, tracking, and managing the movement of goods from point of sale to delivery. 

It includes selecting 3PLs (third-party logistics providers) and warehousing locations, managing transport carriers, maintaining accurate inventory records, and monitoring order fulfillment. Effective 3PL fulfillment warehousing and inventory management enable organizations to reduce overhead costs, increase operational efficiency, and maximize customer satisfaction. 

Utilizing a third-party provider can help alleviate the burden of logistics operations to focus on core business functions that create long-term value for the organization. Furthermore, it gives businesses access to specialized expertise, advanced technology and solutions, and streamlined processes to handle the complexities of global distribution.

Items Are Picked 

3PL Fulfillment items picked process is where goods are selected from the inventory and set aside for order fulfillment. This process aims to ensure orders are filled quickly and accurately so customers can receive their products promptly. 

This process typically occurs before the delivery or shipment of the products, ensuring that all necessary items are available. The process can involve manual or automated processes, depending on the quantity and type of products being handled.

Orders Packaging  

The 3PL fulfillment orders packaging process ensures that your products are securely and safely packaged before shipping. The process begins with picking the appropriate boxes or containers for the items. This step involves choosing the container’s right size, shape and material, considering weight, fragility and other factors. 

After selecting a container, the items are carefully and accurately packaged to meet quality standards. The packages are labeled and prepared for shipment, including the necessary documentation such as invoices, packing slips and shipping labels. Finally, the packages are ready to be shipped out and delivered to their destination. 

Delivery And Shipping 

The 3PL fulfillment delivery and shipping process is essential to any eCommerce business. It ensures that orders are delivered to customers on time, in good condition, and with reliable customer service. 

By using a 3PL provider for order fulfillment, businesses can save time, money, and resources while providing the best customer experience possible. A successful 3PL delivery and shipping process involves careful planning, reliable technology, and effective logistics management.

3pl fulfillment

Do You Need To Outsource Your Order Fulfillment?

When running a business, it is essential to ensure that customer orders are fulfilled quickly and efficiently. If this process is not handled properly, customers may become frustrated and seek out your competitors instead. 

Outsourcing order fulfillment services can allow you to focus on other business areas while ensuring that customer orders are processed efficiently. By outsourcing your order fulfillment, you can reduce the time it takes to process orders and minimize costs associated with staffing and managing an in-house team. 

In addition, outsourcing can take away the burden of dealing with mistakes or delays that may occur when orders are handled internally. Outsourcing provides several advantages, including access to a wide range of services, scalability, and improved customer satisfaction. 

Types Of 3PL Companies


Full-service 3PL companies are providers of integrated logistics services, such as transportation and warehousing. They can provide a wide range of related services, including packaging, inventory management, order fulfillment, reverse logistics, and customer service. 

By outsourcing these tasks to experienced professionals who specialize in the supply chain industry, organizations can benefit from improved operational efficiency, cost savings, and better customer service. 

With a full-service 3PL company, businesses can take advantage of the latest technology to gain visibility into their supply chain operations. This increased visibility allows them to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments as needed to optimize performance. 

They can also use predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to forecast supply chain needs and anticipate customer demand. 

3PL Warehousing

Third-party logistics (3PL) warehousing is an integral part of the 3PL services offered by 3PL companies. 3PL warehousing provides businesses with important advantages, such as cost savings, flexibility, scalability, and improved order fulfillment efficiency. 

With a 3PL warehouse, businesses can store their products in offsite facilities. This eliminates the need to invest in their warehouses and the associated costs, such as rent, electricity costs, staff wages and other operational costs. 3PL warehousing also benefits businesses by providing a means of scaling up or down when needed. 

3PL companies offer short-term or long-term storage solutions that can be easily adjusted according to business needs. In addition, 3PL warehouses increase order fulfillment efficiency by automating processes such as picking, packing and shipping orders. This allows businesses to reduce the costs associated with managing inventory and staffing warehouse operations. 

Overall, 3PL warehousing is a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes that want to reduce their costs and increase the efficiency and scalability of operations. With the help of 3PL companies, businesses can achieve significant cost savings and improved order fulfillment performance. 

3PL Transportation Companies

3PL transportation companies are an integral part of the supply chain. They provide services to fulfill customer needs for freight and warehousing, cross-docking, and other more specialized logistics solutions. The primary goal of 3PLs is to reduce costs for their customers by providing efficient, cost-effective solutions. 

3PLs generally have extensive networks of transportation and warehousing facilities that enable them to provide solutions across a wide area. With their ability to take on a variety of tasks, 3PLs can help companies streamline their operations, lower costs, and become more agile in meeting customer demands.


The 3PL fulfillment process is a great way to streamline your business operation and save on costs. It’s important to partner with a reputable and experienced 3PL provider to ensure that your products are handled properly and shipped out in a timely manner. 

If you’re looking for a 3PL provider, we recommend researching and getting quotes from multiple providers before making your decision.



Rachelle Regua

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